The NSW Department of Planning and Environment is seeking community feedback on its draft North Coast Regional Plan 2041,

David Kirkpatrick
Updated July 19 2022 - 2:39pm, first published 9:56am

A greater proportion of apartments, villas and townhouses are going to be needed if the North Coast is to meet forecasted demand for 41,300 new homes by 2041.

A draft strategic plan for the North Coast has called for more apartments, villas and townhouses to be built to meet housing demand into the future.
A draft strategic plan for the North Coast has called for more apartments, villas and townhouses to be built to meet housing demand into the future.

Curly problems such as bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and recent floods have also been factored into the NSW Government's 20-year vision for the region.


The NSW Department of Planning and Environment is seeking community feedback on its draft North Coast Regional Plan 2041, which will guide planning, land-use decisions, and growth into the future.

The Department's Executive Director of Local and Regional Planning Malcolm McDonald said the draft plan aimed to: "Build a more resilient region to shield communities against natural disasters, protect its spectacular coastline and natural environment, unlock homes, boost tourism, and safeguard Aboriginal land.

"While our short-term focus is on supporting communities recover from recent floods, our long-term vision recognises the need for a steady supply of housing moving forward, with forecasted demand showing at least 41,300 new homes by 2041."

To achieve greater housing diversity, the plan aims to ensure 40 per cent of new homes are small lower maintenance apartments, villas and townhouses, supported by infrastructure.

Mr McDonald said the draft plan has a strong focus on strengthening resilience.

"This region's been battered from flooding, fires and the pandemic and our plan focuses on growing the North Coast into a vibrant and strong region," he said.

"It builds on the Government's efforts to help communities rebuild through funding, accommodation, changes to planning rules and the establishment of the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation that is coordinating the planning, rebuilding and construction of essential services, infrastructure and housing.

"The plan includes actions requiring councils to update their hazard management plans and direct future development to the right areas."

In the foreword to the draft plan, Planning Minister Anthony Roberts acknowledged the resilience of the community which had been "strengthened by a rare community bond".

"Since the last Regional Plan was released in 2017, these communities have battled devastating floods, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic," Mr Roberts said.

"Their courage and support for each other in the face of these life-changing events has been inspirational and the government will continue to stand with these communities and provide them with the support they need to prosper. This updated vision for the region is part of that effort."

The natural disasters the area had experienced in the recent past highlighted the need for more strategic planning.

"The unfortunate reality is climate change could lead to a world where there is a greater frequency of natural disasters and this plan prepares for this with measures that build more resilience into planning decisions to better protect people and places," Mr Roberts stated.

The department will work with councils to provide guidance and the tools to better plan for natural disasters and hazards.

The NSW Government's response to the independent expert inquiry's recommendations, which are expected to be handed down at the end of this month, will also be addressed in the final North Coast Regional Plan 2041.

The plan foreshadows greater housing choice through more townhouses, villas, tiny homes, intergenerational housing, and apartments will also maximise the use of existing and new infrastructure and provide greater access to jobs, services and lifestyle opportunities.

In 2016, around 78% of all dwellings in the North Coast region were single detached houses. This existing pattern of development was matched by approvals in 2016-2017. Single dwellings accounted for 78% of all residential approvals, and multiunit housing made up 22% of the total residential approvals across the region.

Demand for smaller homes with fewer bedrooms is expected to increase over time due to an increasing proportion of lone person and couple households. Many of these lone person and couple only households will be in older age groups.

The movement of these households into new dwellings presents opportunities for younger families to move into established larger homes.

The draft plan delves into many different areas including the region's ageing population and handling the large itinerant workforce that sweeps through the region for jobs in hospitality, tourism and the agricultural sector.

The community is invited to register for one of the online workshops to discuss the plan:

. Northern Rivers workshop: Thursday 28 July, 6:00pm-7:30pm

. Mid North Coast workshop: Thursday 4 August, 6:00pm-7:30pm

. Entire region workshop: Thursday 11 August, 6:00pm-7:30pm

To view the draft plan, register for a workshop, and make a submission by August 24, 2022, visit

David Kirkpatrick

I'm a media professional with over 34 years of experience in public relations and journalism, including a decade setting Lismore's news agenda as the editor of The Northern Star. I have proven track record in growing audiences and improving engagement by delivering quality local stories for and about the Lismore community.